The Apology Tour
A Republican party official tells us today what we already knew: Republicans are at their best when they lie. The truth, on the other hand, has a liberal bias.
Romney’s new ad features footage of him at yesterday’s debate attacking Obama for his … fictional apology tour.
In reprising these lines — that Obama apologized for America and has yet to visit Israel — the Romney camp is again attacking an Obama that mainly exists in the minds of the Obama-hating GOP base, and probably doesn’t really exist in the minds of undecided voters, who have watched this president for four years and don’t share the base’s suspicions about his commitment to America.
At least one RNC official is calling this Romney’s “best moment of the debate.” It’s a curious choice: With two weeks to go until the election, Romney’s best moment wasn’t an affirmative one where he laid out his own agenda vis a vis America’s role in the world; it’s one where he attacked Obama for an apology tour that never happened. The fact that a criticism of Obama that has been has been completely debunked is seen by the Romney camp as his shining triumph of last evening is fitting. It will be interesting to see if this is how the Romney campaign intends to close out the race. If so, it contrasts sharply with the Obama pivot to an affirmative case for a second term agenda that is now underway.
Romney Stands by a Lie That’s Already Been Debunked
People like to say that all politicians lie, but maybe the truth is closer to what the fictional TV character House alleges: “everyone lies.” The thing that’s so amazing about Republicans, and Mitt Romney exemplifies the problem, is that they continue to lie even when publicly called out on their lie, repeatedly. And the media tends to still let them get away with it.
Sure, the fact checkers have yet again retooled the same old pieces confirming that President Obama never did an “apology tour” at any time during his presidency, or before.
Back in December, Michael Cohen, a columnist for Foreign Policy’s Election 2012 Channel, called the “apology tour” claim “a lie that has been reiterated so often that it has become conventional wisdom on the right. ”
“The apology canard has been disproven practically as often as it has been made.”
Romney’s claim is false.
The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts….
Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.
It’s ridiculous to call Obama’s foreign visits and remarks “an apology tour.” We rate this statement Pants on Fire!
So it’s conclusive that not only did Mitt Romney lie last night, but it’s a lie he’s been called out on repeatedly, yet still keeps telling, and today, after the lie has been repudiated again, Romney launches an ad based on it.
The Media’s Own Apology Tour
So how does the media treat Romney’s bizarre penchant for making a lie his central argument following the debate? Just look at Michael Finnegan writing in the LA Times. The LA Times does an entire story on the Romney accusation, and the first four grafs simply reiterate Romney’s false charge. Then, finally, in paragraph five – if the reader got that far – the LAT deigns to include an Obama quote saying it’s not true. Nowhere in the entire piece does the LAT notify their readers that the claim is actually false, and has been debunked by every fact checker, repeatedly, yet for some reason Mitt Romney keeps reiterating the lie.
The LA Times is playing Romney’s stenographer. They’re happy to repeat a lie, and then bury the denial, because in their minds, so long as they include a quote from the other side, it’s journalism!
What else should the LA Times have done?
1) Put the denial in the first graf.
2) Mention the fact, immediately, that every fact checker on the planet has found Romney’s statement to be an utter lie.
3) Note in the piece the question as to why Romney would insist on making a serial lie his central argument leaving the third and final debate.
Here, let me show you.
Original LA Times lede:
Mitt Romney touched off one of the most contentious exchanges of the final presidential debate between him and President Obama by accusing the incumbent of projecting weakness in the world and traveling across the Middle East on an “apology tour.”
What the Times should have written:
Mitt Romney touched off one of the most contentious exchanges of the final presidential debate between him and President Obama by falsely accusing the incumbent of projecting weakness in the world and traveling across the Middle East on an “apology tour,” even though the allegation has been soundly refuted.
“The fact that Mitt Romney has decided to make a lie the center piece of his argument for the presidency, speaks volumes to what he has to offer, or not, as president,” said presidential historian Blah Blah blah.
By printing the lie, and giving it four paragraphs, and then only printing the President’s refutation, and doing so in the fifth paragraph, not earlier, the Times effectively makes this a he-said-she-said, legitimizing the lie in the public’s mind.
Print No Lies
At some point, reporters need to get beyond Journalism 101 (he-said-she-said) and move on to Journalism 102 (don’t report a lie). The LA Times aided and abetted Romney’s lie last night.
But what about the other reporters, the ones who dutifully mention the “fact checks”? They’re helping Romney too, and here’s why. The press shouldn’t simply be reporting that Mitt Romney’s statement last night about the apology tour was untrue, They should be asking the Romney campaign, incessantly, why they’re making a known lie the centerpiece of the candidate’s argument.
What does it say about Mitt Romney, about how he views himself and his qualifications to be president, about how he views the American voters, if he has decided that a lie, rather than the truth, is the more effective way for him to move into the Oval Office? A real journalist would ask that question by this point. It’s that failure to ask, the penchant to simply “report” the back and forth, even when reporters know that the strategy behind the lie is to simply get the back and forth in print so the public thinks some of the accusation must be true, that was behind the Swift-boating of John Kerry, death panels, and every other GOP lie.
The lies worked because the media let them work.
At some point, reporters needs to start asking the Republicans why they think the truth has a liberal bias, and why they think their candidate’s best argument for becoming president is a lie. At some point, reporters need to stay true to their own version of the Hippocratic Oath:
Print No Lies.